Monday, January 31, 2011

BE YOURSELF by Ken Kulhken

Ken will be leading the
Christian Fiction
Continuing Class

Having lived as a writer and teacher of writing since long before my
hair began to disappear, I can offer advice about plenty of challenges
a writer faces. Out of all that, the most helpful to aspiring writers
is: be yourself.

Here’s a grim thought: “Moderate giftedness has been made worthless by the printing press and radio and television and satellites and all that. A moderately gifted person who would have been a community treasure a thousand years ago has to give up, has to go into some other line of work, since modern communications put him or her into daily competition with nothing but world's champions.” -Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., novelist

These days, with the ease of self-publishing and small press
publishing, the competition is evermore daunting. But take heart from the words of another fine and famous writer, Raymond Carver: “A writer doesn’t need to be the smartest kid on the block, only to be able to look with amazement at a leaf or an old shoe.” And, I’ll add, to express that amazement in our own words.

A Perelandra College student first tweaked my admiration during the application process, when she expressed a wish for me to “have a smashing weekend.” Soon thereafter, she confessed to being “all
aflutter.” I will gladly read whatever she writes, simply because I’m intrigued to know about a person from Ohio who uses words like “smashing” and “aflutter.”

A preacher I like is liable to use the “dude” and “as it were” in the same sentence. I often return to a second service featuring the same message and listen again with pleasure.

Yesterday, a friend mentioned someone who is fit to be operated upon. She called him “surgible.” I asked if that was a dictionary word. She said, “Oh, no. I just invented it.” Need I add that she is a wonderful writer?

Now, being ourselves involves more than using original words or using words in original ways. At least as important is expressing our own unique ideas and perceptions. Let’s talk about that in Florida.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

John will be presenting workshops at the conference and will post concerning his presentations in February. Watch for this post.

John Vonhof writes for Christian and secular markets. He is the author of self-published and mainstream books and booklets, with articles in print and on the web. He is an expert on finding ideas and writing for niche markets, and manages, a website to help writers get the most out of attending writers conferences. He loves helping new writers discover their writing niche and how to market their writing.

I attended my first writing conference in 1996. Three year later I started teaching at a local conference. Whether attending as a conferee or as one of the faculty, I was hooked. But I have to be honest, what draws me to the conferences is not the keynote speaker, the other speakers, or the workshops, the venue, or the food – it’s the conferees.
Allow me to share an email I received a few years ago from conferee Janet Rockey.
“I remember my first experience with the Florida Christian Writers Conference. I had high hopes of my book becoming the next best seller. After my first class on writing good fiction with Gayle Roper, I wanted to "un-submit" my manuscript. The only thing right about it was the font! Since then, with the help of conference classes, writer workshops, and critique groups, I've rewritten it, re-edited it, shaved off unnecessary and weak words, punched it up with more tension, and tightened my writing. In January, Eva Marie Everson suggested I enter it in the Christian Writers Guild First Novel Contest. That's the most encouraging critique I've ever had.
“The classes you taught at the conference have been a great help to me. You gave me the confidence to continue writing, and now I have a few published works. Chicken Soup for the Soul What I Learned from the Cat bought my story, Romeow and Julicat; and Barbour House bought my story, Silhouette on the Shade for their Heavenly Humor for the Cat Lover's Soul. PCCWeb Daily published my story, The Great Escape, in their daily e-mail devotional.”
My goal in going to any conference is to help others. I want you to return home, like Janet, and work on your writing – to make it better. I think I can safely say that is the goal and motivation of the other faculty too. We are there to teach, to share, to guide, to encourage, and to help. I love that. It’s beautiful.
The conferees come full of anxiety and apprehension. Is my writing good? Are my ideas worthwhile? Will someone request my proposal or manuscript? What will I learn? Will I know anyone?
They also come with a willingness to learn. They want to take notes, to pick our brains, to collect handouts and material off the freebie tables.
And they have questions about writing. Did I write a good query or proposal? Did I format my manuscript correctly? Which major track should I choose? How do I know which workshops to attend? Who should I meet with? Did I submit to the right editor?
Three factors: apprehension, a willingness to learn, and questions.
That’s what inspires me. That’s what inspires us as faculty.
You challenge us to deliver.
We are there for you. We want to talk to you. To help you choose the right workshops, to think through your ideas, to talk one-on-one, and to help you grow as writers.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"JUST DO IT' by Sharon King

For everyone who's wondering if investing the time and money in a major writer's conference like the FCWC is worth it, I encourage you to hold off on the debate and "just do it." You will thank yourself later--maybe years later.

I attended the 2009 conference and received two manuscript reviews. The reviews were encouraging, but they pointed out some things I needed to improve, not just to get published but to be a better writer. THAT's the value of attending a conference.

Yes, I have a success story to share--one of the FCWC manuscripts is under consideration by a major publisher and the second one (which I completely revised) has been published by Healthy Life Press in Florida (The Spiritual Fitness Checkup for the 50-Something Woman). But, the publishing was just the end product of a process that began when I spent time learning, sharing, and gaining guidance (and confidence) from other writers at FCWC. Conference attendance doesn't guarantee you'll get your book published, but you will leave a better writer--and isn't that everyone's real goal?